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Liberty Rides Forth review at Waterloo East Theatre, London – ‘whimsical new musical’

The cast of Liberty Rides Forth at Waterloo East, London. Photo: Mark Turner
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David Kent’s musical has had a convoluted development since starting as a two-hander at the London School of Musical Theatre in 2013 entitled The Next Big Thing.

Five years later it now has a cast of five and a new title, Liberty Rides Forth that offers a better reflection of the whimsical plot.

Trevor likes to think of himself as a novelist, although so far he has yet to write a word. Three of the Muses attempt an incantation to help him solve his writer’s block.

It all goes horribly wrong however and the hapless writer ends up invoking the mischievous Liberty, a larger-than-life fictional figure who plays Mephistopheles to Trevor’s Faustus.

Kent’s plot falls somewhere between Xanadu and Little Shop of Horrors but lacks the dramatic spark that brings both those musicals to life. Much of the action and several of the pivotal characters are reported rather than witnessed.

This slows down the action considerably and while Kent’s songs show promise, Susan Raasay’s direction and Stuart Rogers’ choreography fails to bring any further dynamism to the proceedings.

There are however some dynamic performances, notably from the three muses played by Chloe Rice, Emma Scott and Georgie Faith. William Hazell as Trevor only really begins to blossom as a performer when he is given the opportunity to fight back against Dereck Walker’s capricious Liberty. Quite why Liberty is played by a man in drag is never fully explored or explained but Walker’s performance never quite feels at ease.

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Verdict
Timid and sluggish production of an otherwise whimsical original musical
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